July 1, 2006 | Issue 26

Daf Catchup Celebrates 10th Year As Excuse For Everything

BROOKLYN, NEW YORK — [TheKnish.com] Friends of 33-year-old Maimosai Korin quietly observed the 10th anniversary of his daf-catchup problem, a chronic condition that has served as an ongoing reason to excuse himself from such diverse activities as taking out the trash, helping friends move and being mekayim the mitzvah or pru u'rvu.

Korin, unable to visit his sister in the hospital after she gave birth, nurses his "daf thing.""No matter what's going on, you can always count on Maimosai to be way behind on his daf," said longtime wife , Beth Hillel, who joined 13 others in an evening of reminiscence at a local restaurant Tuesday. "It's been one heck of an excuse-laden decade."

According to gathering organizer Yitzy Ausashabas, it was in April 1996 that Korin first revealed that he was behind on the daf when declining at the last minute to help a group of bochurim move into their dormitory.

"While we've never verified the exact date he fell behind for good, everyone agrees that was the first time they heard the excuse," said Ausashabas, who has known Korin since they were in first year beis medrish together 12 years ago. "Everyone was so concerned because it sounded serious. None of us suspected the excuse would last this long."

In that time, Korin has used the behind-on-the-daf excuse a number of times, estimated by friends to be between one and three bajillion. It has served as Korin's ticket out of being mivaker cholim, davening, bentching, changing the baby, putting up mezuzas, bringing bedika cloths to the rav, grating the marror, returning lost items, shiluach hakan, kiddish levanah, kissing his mother, cleaning for Pesach, and going on approximately 14 shidduch dates.

Even as friends' concern over the behindedness gradually grew into bemusement, then indifference, the excuse persisted. Platonic friend Beth Shamai marveled at its longevity, saying that as recently as February, Korin "trotted out the old chestnut," when asked to walk around with the pushkah during Mincha.

"Do you have to be completely caught up on your daf in order to check the lettuce before Pesach?" asked Mavoy Shehugevoah, echoing the evening's trend of rhetorical questioning.

Though no one has been able to determine whether Korin ever truly fell behind, Ausashabass said he felt especially privileged to "be on the scene" when the excuse transformed from a casual complaint about his lagging to a full-blown entire mesechta behind.

"I don't think he's ever seen a rabbi or a rav about it," Kairns said. "You'd think that he would, with all that mental anguish and apparent immobility."

Despite his unwillingness to consult the rabbinical establishment, Korin remains attentive to his condition, often requiring the most comfortable chair in a given room "for his daf," according to Ausashabas.

Though admitting they had no specific knowledge, Korin's friends were fairly certain that modern Judaism had devised treatments for the condition, with a few guessing that proper time allotment and shiurim allow those behind on the daf to catch up.

Or Larboa, an ex-chavrusah of Korin's, noted that daf complaints disappear during activities Korin enjoys, such as three-box games, where he is the Yeshiva's leading hitter. He hasn't missed a game in four years.

"That can't be good for his daf," Larboa said. "But I guess he fights through the turmoil, like he does when he's playing Halo 2 for hours on end."

When roommate Biachad Biadar added that Korin had recently complained of being 195 daf behind, excusing him from doing the laundry, it inspired lively speculation from the group about a new era of potential behindedness.

"This has the potential to be a real 'stealth excuse' for Maimosai," Biachad said. "There are times when being behind on the daf isn't appropriate and I'm sure those will be exactly the times when he mentions he's behind on his shnaim mikrah, echod targum.

Korin was invited to the 10th anniversary gathering, but canceled because he was behind on his Tehillim for the day.


Pencil Martin Bodek is short, dark, handsome, runs marathons (finishes them too!), can solve a Rubik's Cube in 1:47, is a big TED chasid, can whup your keister in Scrabble, loves halva, co-founded TheKnish.com, and writes books from 5-9: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/mbodekatgmaildotcom


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